Where to The Wellington in Belmont Center.
What for A family-friendly night out in an area that really needs it. Brothers Dante, Damian, and Filippo de Magistris (Dante, Il Casale) serve everything from oysters to mussels to fried clams to burgers, fried chicken, crudo, poke, and sake.
The scene The exterior calls to mind one of those slick new luxury condo buildings, right down to the tinted windows and stylized “W” etched into the door. No, we’re not quite in suburbia anymore — and, yet, parking is easy and traffic is manageable. The menu promises “an everyday escape from the every day,” and it is: Here you will find couples getting frisky atop lemon-yellow bar stools (yep, there are hooks for purses); kids eating burgers and crinkle-cut fries in booths while their parents sip (or slug) white wine; and older folks relaxing in a sun-splashed front dining room. Suddenly, it’s summer, and the locals have a new home. Is that Phil Collins on the speakers?
What you’re eating Whatever you want! In the mood for fried clams? This is your place. Lettuce wraps with spicy cumin chicken? By all means. Are you one of those people who judges a restaurant by its avocado toast? They’ve got that, too. It’s possible to spend a lot of money on dishes like miso-roasted salmon ($26) or smoked lamb with couscous and tzatziki ($28), but you can also get an $11 burger topped with “Well” sauce — our server won’t disclose the recipe, but it involves ketchup and horseradish. Tots, fries, or salad come on the side, and you can add on foie gras sauce (which arrives in a silver gravy boat) or fried eggs. The Wellington hasn’t forgotten their demographic, either: There’s a kids’ menu with mac and cheese, fried chicken, and ice cream sandwiches. Our server, clearly versed in the vicissitudes of dining with children, puts those orders in right away. Another nice touch? Gluten-free cassava cheese rolls. They taste like pigs in a blanket, without the pig.
Care for a drink? The drinks menu announces that “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” and gets cheeky with cocktail names, including the Awkward Tinder Date (mescal, rhubarb) and the Soju Wanna Be a Rockstar (soju, mint, coconut water). Cocktails are $12; there’s also a small sake list, a gluten-free beer list, and the requisite boozy milkshakes.
Overheard Memories of bygone meals; romantic mysteries. “This lamb reminds me of Strip-T’s. Poor Strip-T’s,” says a fellow tucking into his lamb shawarma, referring to the soon-to-shutter Watertown hangout. At the bar, an older lady and a fresh-faced fellow get very cozy. “We have a Mrs. Robinson situation going on,” laughs someone at a nearby table. A server places a goblet of foie gras sauce at a table with two children. “Just don’t tell them what’s in it!” she says, laughing.
The Wellington, 75 Leonard St., Belmont, 617-932-1750, www.thewellingtonbelmont.comKara Baskin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.